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and are produced by one another. They may be treated of distinctly, but they cannot exist feparately. So that whenever any of them is found alone, or stands independent of the other, that very thing is a sufficient evidence that it is falle and (purious.
3. From what has been said on this subject, we may be enabled to judge what are the fundamental and essential doctrines of the gospel, to which all others are but subordinate and subservient. Regeneration, or the New Birth, we are warranted to say, after the example of our Saviour, is absolutely necessary to salvation : “ Ex166 cept a man be born again, he cannot see the • kingdom of God.” If any man, therefore, depart from this truth, he makes fhipwreck of the faith, and will at last be found to fight against God. It is also plain, that the reconciliation of a finner to God must be through the blood of the atonement : “ For other foundation can no man 66 Jay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ *." If any man hold by, and build upon, this great foundation, he shall be finally accepted, though many things may be found in him justly blameworthy. Nor is it easy, indeed, to say what de. gree of error and misapprehension concerning these truths themselves, may be consistent with abiding by the substance. But certainly all who * 1 Cor. iii. 11,
directly and openly oppose them, may be said " to 66 bring in damnable heresies, even denying the « Lord that bought them, and to bring upon 66' themselves swift destruction t."
This may teach us, what judgment Christians ought to form of the many parties and factions which divide the visible church. There may be smaller differences, which keep them asunder on earth, while, in faith and in love to an unseen Saviour, they are perfectly united. We are told that God shall gather his elect from the four winds, and that “ many shall come from the east “ and west, and fall sit down with Abraham, « and Ifaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of hea““ ven*.” I always think with much pleasure on the perfect union of this great and general alsembly of the church of the first born. Then all other distinctions, all other designations shall be abolifhed, and those shall make one pure and unmixed society, who have received a white stone " and a new name," and " whose names are “ written in the Lamb's book of life.” The profpect of this should keep us from immoderate resentment, at present, against any of whom we have realon to think that they hold the foundation, are acquainted with real and practical religion, or have had experience of a saving change.
t:2 Pet. ïj, s,
Matt,' viii. 11.
No No man, indeed, can deny it to be just, that every one would endeavour to support that plan of the discipline and government of the church of Christ, and even the minutest parts of it, which appear to him to be founded upon the word of God. But still sound doctrine is more to be ef- . teemed than any form. Still we ought to confider the excellence of every particular form, as confisting in its fitness to promote or preserve the knowledge of the truth, and to carry on a work of illumination, conviction, and conversion, to the saving of the soul. Would any Christian shew that he is of a truly catholic disposition, let him discover a greater attachment to those even of different denominations, who seem to bear the image of God, than to profane persons, be their apparent or pretended principles what they will. Let us pay some regard to other distinctions, but still the greatest regard to the most important of all distinctions, that of saints and sinners.
4. As this great distinction divides the whole human race, and is so very important in its con- . sequences, let me earnestly intreat every one who peruseth this treatise, to bring the matter to a trial with regard to himself. Answer this question in seriousness, Whether do you belong to the one class or the other? We are dropping into the grave from day to day, and our flate is fixed beyond any pofiibility of cbarge. What aftonith
ing folly to continue in uncertainty whether we shall go to heaven or hell, whether we shall be companions of angels, or associates with blafpheming devils, to all eternity. Nothing, therefore, can be more salutary, than that you make an impartial search into your present character and state. If you have ground to conclude that you are at peace with God, what an unspeakable source of joy and consolation? If otherwise, there is no time to lose in hastening from the brink of the pit. May I not with some confidence make this demand of every reader, that he would set apart some time, and apply with vigour and earneftness to the duty of self-examination. Is not this demand reasonable? What injury can you suffer by complying with it? Will conscience permit any to continue unreproved in the neglect of it? Have you read so much on the subject of regeneration, and are you unwilling to reap the benefit of it? Let every one, without exception, take up or renew this grand enquiry, “ Am I in " Christ? That is, am I a New Creature or not? “ Am I a child of God? or do I still continue “ an heir of hell ?”
5. As it is more than probable there will be fome readers who are, or have reason to suspect," themselves unrenewed, I would now come as an · ambassador from Christ, and endeavour to negotiate peace. Wherefore «s as though God did
os befeech you by me, I pray you in Christ's stead, “ be ye reconciled unto God *.” While I attempt this, I desire to do it under a just impression of the great and principal truths which have been illustrated on this subject. I know that this change is a work of the Holy Spirit of grace ; that he only can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ; that without his effectual blessing, the clearest and most conclusive reasoning directed to the understanding, the most warm and pathetic application to the affections, will be altogether fruitless. I know that great natural abilities are often perverted and abufed, that the foundest reason in worldly things, and the most brutish folly in matters of eternity, are often joined together. That men may be learned scholars, eminent politicians, active merchants, skilful tradesmen, and yet blinded sinners, whòm no instruction can enlighten, whom no warning can alarm. But I know and believe, at the same time, that God, “ whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of
his Son," is able to make “ his word quick « and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, « piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul _"" and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, 'and
- a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the .“ heart t." There is an express appointment that the wicked Tall “receive warning,” and in • Cori vi 20. + Heb. iv, 12.